The Basic Principles of Effective Website Design

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One of the more important considerations for a brand is their online presence. A critical element of this is good web design. Good web design can elevate you above or drop you below your competition. Design matters, because it is a reflection of your brand and how you do business. Ultimately it helps determine how your clients and potential customers perceive you verses all your competitors.

This is especially important when it comes to web design. Websites are effectively the new storefront and often the first point of contact for a business online. With over 97% of consumers searching online for local goods and services a businesses online impression is critical. Make a poor impression, and you could lose a potential customer. Make a good one, you can gain a new customer. Make a great impression, and you can will capture and keep a customer for life.

It begins with website design, how you present your written text and visual content, and the experience you provide your users. So, let’s cover what you should know about good website design!

Have a defined purpose

Does your website have a clear purpose? Is that purpose immediately apparent to the visitor when they land on your sites home page? Or are they confused about what the point of the page is, or what type business the site is about?

Does your website quickly make it clear to the visitor the value that they can get from your products or services? Most online searchers have an extremely short attention span, especially if they are searching on a mobile devise. Are the benefits of what you have to offer immediately clear? Or is your page merely a list of products or services, and a jumble of features and specifications. If your website visitors don’t quickly see that your site is what they are looking for and the benefit you can offer them they will quickly bounce away.

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Make it easy to scan your pages

When visitors come to your site they are most likely going to scan the page rather than read everything on it. For example, when visitors are looking for specific content or to complete a certain task, they will quickly scan a website’s pages until they discover what they are looking for. As the website owner it is your responsibility to help them with that by insuring good visual hierarchy. Visual hierarchy is the arrangement or presentation of elements in order of importance ━ where their eyes should focus first, second, etc.

 

Practical tips:

  • Avoid large blocks of text. Organize your content into groups to make it easier to digest visually. Breaking up blocks of text by headers or bullet points.

  • Put more weight on important elements. Make important elements such as call-to-action buttons or contact forms focal points so guests see them immediately. You can emphasize elements by using different font sizes or colors.

  • Consider our natural scanning patterns. People in the Western world read left to right, top to bottom. A website should go with this pattern to avoid confusion for your visitors. Well-designed websites lay out their content in a “F” reading shape or “Z” visual pattern.

Take content seriously

Textual content is just as important as the design of your website. More than 80% of the content on the internet is still written language. Even if your site were award winning design, it’s merely an empty shell without great content; a good website has both good design and great content. The design of the site should aid and complement the content.

Insure that the content is relevant. Visitors come to your site to find information or solve problems that they have. You need to speak to their needs, wants, and issues. Do not focus on you or your business. Focus on them. Speak to their needs and questions.

Avoid jargon. The information on your website should be as plain and simple as possible for comprehension. Best practice is to write for all levels of readers by choosing words that are simple, clear and that avoid industry or insider jargon that may not be understood by everyone.

A Good Call-to-Action

Identify the ONE THING you want someone to do on each page of your site. If you have properly identified the prospects needs, desires, pain point, and you have offered the best solution for them, you need to give the user a way to get the benefits you’re offering. This is called a call-to-action.

For example, if you want visitors to get in touch with you, you could provide a link that says:  Contact us now, click here!

If you want them to download a free eBook or file, you could say:  Don’t miss out, download our special eBook on the best sites to visit in Rome, It’s free!

If you want them to subscribe to a newsletter by filling out a short form, you could say:  Yes! I want to get proven ways to make money from home by subscribing to your free newsletter!

These are just a few examples. The point is to compel them to take action now. If they put it off, it will not happen!

Minimize the number of choices

The number of choices consumers are presented with will affect their decisions; the more choices they have, the less action they are likely to take. When you present your prospect with too many options, you make them think too much. To increase chances for action, it is important to minimize the number of choices.

Engage users to scroll

Scrolling draws users deeper into your pages and makes them invest more time in the experience. This increases the chance that the user will convert ━ take action. buy something, sign up for a newsletter, or contact you. Content at the top of the page is very important. It creates the important first impression and expectation of quality and positive results for visitors. People will scroll, but only if what’s above the fold is promising enough.

 

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Simple and Obvious Website Navigation

The best way to ensure your visitors get around your website easily is to place a navigation menu with links to the main sections of your site at the top of each page. If you site is for a local business you will want to also have a contact phone number prominent at the top of each page. You’ll want to make it obvious to your prospect that all links are clickable. Be sure that these clickable links are visually different from the regular text content on the rest of the site.

  • Keep top-level navigation for main navigation options. Limit your top-level navigation links to a maximum of seven choices, most users cannot interact effectively with more choices than that. If you need more, create sub-navigation with clear categorization. Notice that even Amazon can get you to almost any product you need within about three clicks.

  • Use clear labels for navigation options. Use familiar words for menu options to help users understand them better.

  • Reduce the clicks required for users to get to a destination. Design your navigation in a way that gets visitors where they want to go with the least number of clicks possible. When designing a website, remember the three click rule we outlined above, which says that your viewers should never be more than three clicks away from what they are looking for.

  • Include navigation options in the footer of your site. A footer is a place where visitors expect to find navigation options and contact information.

An About Us Page

The “About Us” Page is often overlooked. It is however an opportunity to really set yourself apart from the competition. This is a good place to get creative and tell your story in a very compelling way. A good About Us page is personal and informative. It will contain striking visuals and great inside information. Check out this link for some creative examples of About Us pages: http://bestaboutpages.com/

Testimonials

Undoubtedly, the best ways to market your business, products, and services is to let your satisfied customers do it for you. Make it a practice to ask your clients – customers for testimonials or feedback, and prominently feature positive experiences and quotes on each page of your website. A best practice is to collect “keyword” rich testimonials specific to particular products or services that you offer and then feature these testimonials on the appropriate page of your website. Make sure to include a compelling call to action on the page. Don’t leave your visitor wondering what to do next.  Along with testimonials for your website, don’t forget to collect online reviews.  Reviews from Google, Yelp, and Facebook can not only build your online trust but they are extremely important in building trust when searchers find you online.

A Contact Page

This should be redundant to be sure. Every page of your site should have a contact section. Never the less, be sure to give your users a way to get in touch with you! Ideally, you’ll have a contact form that a prospect can quickly fill-in and send for feedback purposes. You can also provide links to social media accounts as well. However, do not make these links prominent on the page. You do not want potential customers clicking away from the page without filling out the contact form or clicking on your call to action.

A Blog

A blog is a great way to market your business and keep your clients up-to-date on special offers, events, personnel changes, community events, etc. You can use it to create content relevant to your industry that’s useful to your clients. This is productive for them and builds authority for your site in the search engines. Use your blog to start discussions, and you can use it to get valuable feedback as well. This will provide ideas for future content and builds a sense of community between you and your clients. Done correctly, posting regular, well-written, and useful blog content can do wonders for engaging the people who matter most to you (and therefore, your business).

Final Critical Elements

  • Fast Loading— No one wants to wait for your site to load. In the age where most users are on mobile devises this is ever more important. Insure your site has prompt loading times for all users on all devices. You can use Pingdom or Pagespeed Insights by Google to check your website speed and get insights on how you can improve.

  • Mobile Ready— Virtually everyone uses smart devices today. Create an engaging, mobile-friendly website that your audience can access quickly and displays correctly.

  • Tracking Enabled— Analytics matter – it’s critical to determine that your website is actually effective and bringing in traffic. Your website should include functionality to gauge key indicators such as traffic, goals, and conversions.

  • SEO Savvy— Don’t underestimate the power of optimizing your website for both browsers and humans. Provide compelling, readable content for your site visitors. For the search engines, make sure your content is keyword rich. Be sure to include all necessary on-page SEO tags and elements, including schema and XML sitemaps.

  • Conversion OptimizedSynergy between visual and content elements. Address the wants, needs, questions and skepticism of your prospects then offer compelling reasons to act now to enjoy the benefits of your solution. Implement these design elements and move prospects through your site and direct them to schedule an appointment, request a product demonstration, or even make a purchase.

  • Email MarketingAbsolutely. Email marketing can be an effective and cost effective way to sell products or services, remind customers that they are due for a visit or highlight special offers. A website’s email capture forms should sync with the your business’ email marketing system for seamless access and function.

  • Social MediaDon’t miss an opportunity to leverage the power of social media. Be sure to integrate relevant social media platforms within your site. Allowing customers to access social media pages from your website instantly broadens a brand’s reach and will help increase visibility and traffic.

  • Strong SecurityBoth site security from hackers and spamming and security for information collected from site visitors. Website security cannot be an after-thought.